While the pilgrims suffered countless obstacles to navigate uncharted waters, their descendants surely failed to rise above the sea of legal rhetoric on rape by fraud back in 2008. It was a tragically lost opportunity.
In Suliveres v. Commonwealth, 449 Mass. 112 (2007), the court deemed the defendant not guilty in a case in which he disguised himself as his brother to have sex with the brother’s girlfriend. Another MA case of rape by fraud was similarly dismissed when a lab technician passed himself off as a doctor.
Then Representative, Peter J. Koutoujian, currently the Sheriff of Middlesex County, proposed a law to make rape by fraud a crime. The law was considered “too broad,” and was voted down. The principle behind what defines “too broad” is that the law could be carried out if a man poses as single when, in fact, he’s married.
The following is a quote from CBS News at the time:
Rape by deception is just as damaging and illegal as rape by force, said Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone. If the law passes here, a common concern is that the legislation’s vague language regarding deception will result in women who have been seduced by men posing as someone else or claiming to be unmarried filing rape charges.
So let’s examine the concept by which the law was rejected….
Joe Hitched, (sorry guys but this occurs far more frequently with men fooling women than women fooling men,) is on his own for a week. His wife is out of town to care for her father who just had heart surgery. Joe’s feeling bored and decides to go hang out at the neighborhood watering hole, the one with the loud music, pool table, and pretty women.
As Joe approaches the door, he takes off his wedding band, surveying his hand to see if he can detect a faint line where the ring normally sits. Content that his deception won’t be noticed, he finds a seat at the crowded bar and orders a beer.
Susie Single, fresh from a recent breakup with her boyfriend, is standing next to him. He offers to buy her a drink and they begin a chatting, friendly banter. He challenges her to a game of pool and before you know it, they’re kicking it up on the dance floor. When the beat turns to a slow simmer, he puts an arm around her waist and they sway seductively to the music.
Susie’s impressed with his good looks. She’s an intelligent woman, a nurse. He’s well spoken, seems like an educated guy, and he has a fun loving disposition. She’s not one to succumb to the flirting of the moment, but she gives him her number. When she gets home, she “Googles” him. He works where he said he did. Nothing negative appears on the internet.
Joe calls the very next day. “What a catch,” Susie thinks, “someone who’s not a game player!” She accepts his invitation for dinner. He makes a reservation for a romantic dinner cruise, and he tells her all about his divorce and the two kids he’s estranged from, since his terrible ex is giving him a hard time.
Susie’s heart melts. She feels an instant chemistry with Joe. He seems like the perfect guy… interested in his children, easy to talk to, hard-working. When he walks her to the door, and kisses her good-night, she’s caught up in the passion and invites him in. They have totally consensual, so she thinks, sex, that night, the next, and the next.
When his wife returns, Joe covers up his marriage by saying he needs to travel for business. Susie understands that his job takes him away, until she runs into him shopping with his wife at the local mall.
So, was their sex consensual? She agreed to it, right? Or was she defrauded into it?
Susie was raised by her mother after her father made off with his secretary. She was adamant that she would never do to a family what her father had done to hers. Had she known Joe was married, she would not have gotten involved with him. Joe not only broke his marriage vows, he embroiled Susie in adultery and sexually assaulted her by fraud.
Why do our laws insist in protecting offenders who do this to women all the time? Why would a state deliberately turn its back on protecting a woman against assault by someone pretending to be her boyfriend or her doctor, in order to give Joe Hitched carte blanche to defile Susie Single? Is it because so many people do this that our Legislators are concerned they won’t get re-elected if they stand for the right thing?
Divorce is rampart in our country. Often, marriages crumble because it’s so easy to step out and hook up in another relationship. While people will argue that our courts will be inundated with charges against offenders, I’d argue that the volume of divorce is likely to diminish when offenders realize there are real and meaningful consequences to this behavior.
And the very simple response to the concept that our courts will be overrun with rape by fraud claims is: people should stop taking off their rings to defraud others of sex. But even if they don’t, cases of “he said, she said,” are unlikely to meet the burden of proof required for prosecution. Prosecuting a “rape by fraud” case would take “proofs” that will hold up in a courtroom, not the unsupported lies that are common in hook-ups. For that reason, even though Joe committed what we can see, generically, as “rape by fraud,” will he be prosecuted? Probably no.
If we’d like to live in a moral society, our laws must conform with morality. Sexually assaulting someone by fraud is both morally reprehensible and a crime. Just because Joe Hitched won’t be charged, does not make it less so.
Sadly, the Sheriff’s efforts, from the town where I was born, failed to acknowledge that duplicity invalidates consent in all things, including sex. I take this one personally.
Using false personation to obtain a seaport security ID can get you a five year stint in Florida State Prison. The Sunshine State’s statutes on fraudulent practices is so huge, it’s divided into four separate parts. Making false statements to merchants, on real estate transactions, and in communications are just a few of the many defrauding acts that are covered.
Florida identifies the following as their legislative intent regardingusing communications systems to carry out false personation:
Schemes to defraud have proliferated in the US in recent years and many operators of schemes to defraud use communications technology to solicit victims and thereby conceal their identities and overcome a victim’s normal resistance to sales pressure by delivering a personalized sales message.
Hmmm…. sounds just like what happens on e-dating sites, but it’s directed at advertisers who are selling products, not at sexual predators trolling for new victims. Seems false advertisements about hair products are far more important in Florida than defrauding you to undermine your sexual sanctity!
Florida identifies what most states call rape or sexual assault as sexual battery. One of the most important determinations in all such cases is the concept of consent. Their definition of consent is contained in 794.011 (a):
“Consent” means intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission.
According to this definition, a rape by fraud victim should be able to press charges based on the fact that their consent was neither intelligent nor knowing. Other positive signs for the possibility of a rape by fraud charge are conveyed by the following:
794.011 (c): “Mentally incapacitated” means temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling a person’s own conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance administered without his or her consent or due to any other act committed upon that person without his or her consent.
So, how about lying? Doesn’t that qualify as “any other act” committed without his or her consent? Sure should be!
Other than the ambiguous language quoted, there is no specific law in Florida’s statutes that prohibits rape by fraud: neither in the factum, nor in the inducement. But the literal interpretation of their language supports a victim bringing a case to the authorities, and if they fail to act, turning to their legislators to enact such a law.
Seems like an over abundance of swamp water drowns out the need to protect victims in Louisiana. The Bayou State has several statutes on rape, but none measure up on rape by fraud! There is aggravated rape, forcible rape, and simple rape. The construct that comes closest to rape by fraud, in Louisiana’s negligent criminal code, is simple rape, 43(a)(1).
In statute 43(a)(1), one example of simple rape is defined as sexual intercourse without the lawful consent of the victim when the victim is incapable of resisting or of understanding the nature of the act by reason of a stupor or abnormal condition of mind produced by an intoxicating agent or any cause and the offender knew or should have known of the victim’s incapacity.
The argument that could support a rape by fraud claim under this statute is that the victim was as unaware of the nature of the act as an intoxicated or drugged victim would be. Their consent, in any of the related cases, would not be freely given and knowing consent, because the offender duped them, (any cause,) into the act, and knew they were doing so at the time.
The ambiguity of this law could be cleared up by simply inserting the words “or duplicity” after “intoxicating agent.”
Protecting Wives Against Rape by Fraud
Louisiana’s statutes do contain one specific act of rape by fraud; (in the inducement,) that of impersonating the husband of the victim.
§43.3 When the female victim submits under the belief that the person committing the act is her husband and such belief is intentionally induced by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the offender.
By having implemented this law, Louisiana clearly shows that the use of fraud in seduction breaches knowing consent, but reserves their remedy solely for married women. This concept comes from the notion that a wife is a husband’s property. Defiling her is punishable because it is an offense against the husband. Unmarried women, therefore, are unprotected.
Idaho case tested the practice for single women
If a man posed as a boyfriend or fiancee, the charge would not apply. In a 2011 case in Idaho, against Zachary McGraw, the case was in fact dismissed because the victim was unmarried. The Judge on the case, the Hon. Cheri Copsey, found the disparity in the law “despicable”, but never-the-less, it still stands in Idaho and Louisiana. (Refer to pg. 184 of Carnal Abuse by Deceit.)
Louisiana’s statute on fraud as it relates to Theft, is crystal clear!
Theft is the misappropriation or taking of anything of value which belongs to another, either without the consent of the other to the misappropriation or taking, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations.
The degrees of damage under this statute vary according to the monetary value of the loss. It appears that losing your most precious asset, your sexual sanctity, does not measure up to consideration since it has no quantifiable monetary value. Take a man’s money, off to jail you go. Defile a woman, (or anybody for that matter,) no problem!
A passage from the public online journal of Mischele Lewis, a rape by fraud victim from New Jersey
“Rape by deception is a fairly new concept. I know it’s setting a legal precedent out there but being the victim of such a crime, I’m certainly feeling passionate about it. No, I’m not saying that every man or woman out there who has an affair and tells their significant other that they’re single when they really aren’t should be open to prosecution when the truth comes out. But in a case like this where he lied about his entire EXISTENCE and used those lies to rob me of my sanctity, my body, my knowing CONSENT! I asked him why he didn’t tell me sooner. He said he was afraid to lose me. You think??!?
So let’s look at what Mischele says….
“Rape by fraud is a fairly new concept.” She’s says this in order to represent that she’s brought the concept to NJ. Not so fast Mischele…. you read it in my book. And it’s not new….
Socrates wrote about rape by fraud way back in the Roman era. Professor Susan Estrich wrote a book about it in 1982, called Real Rape. Several notable legal commentators have written about it, such as Law Professor Patricia J. Falk of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. There are states like TN whose penal code has existed since 1977. And my own book, Carnal Abuse by Deceit, How a Predator’s Lies Became Rape, was published in 2013, before you learned that Jordan wasn’t who he said he was.
In my book, which she not only read, but commented that she was xeroxing it for her attorney, I sincerely thank those who came before me, and upon whose convictions and knowledge my own work stands. It’s the background that lead me to help Mischele deal with her misfortune. Not only should no one ever xerox a copyrighted book, but I find it outrageous when someone fails to honor the work and efforts of others in order to self-aggrandize. I’d probably let it go if I felt she was creating a benefit in society’s awareness, but she’s doing just the opposite, and here’s why:
According to Mischele, when someone says they’re single but they’re actually married, the law should not apply. She’s wholeheartedly wrong! The law is either “it’s wrong to lie” or “it’s not wrong to lie.” There’s no middle ground here. You can’t be just a little bit pregnant! Laws are based on legal concepts and you can’t simply pick when you’ll apply it and when you won’t.
The law will not prosecute cases of “he said, she said,” because they lack significant proof. No prosecutor will act on the case. That, and not that it’s not a crime, will prevent marital cheats from facing prosecution.
Mischele is out to get a law passed for what happened to her. But she is self-serving to the detriment of other victims. And, she is totally overlooking the fact that NJ already defines sexual assault as sexual conduct without consent, and consent as ineffective if produced by force duress or deception. What is needed in NJ is Prosecutors with the cojones to do the right thing!
Coming to a victim’s aid….
Mischele was introduced to me by Donna Anderson, the author of LoveFraud, How marrying a sociopath fulfilled my spiritual plan. She blogs at LoveFraud.com and has helped countless people recognize and deal with the aftermath of a relationship with a sociopath. I’ve written posts for Donna’s blog, and she knew I focus on combating rape by fraud by attempting to implement laws against it. When she learned of the problem Mischele had run into, she introduced us.
I spoke with Mischele over the phone and attempted to help her understand why what had happened to her was a crime. I told her I believed that either New Jersey would prosecute Will Jordan, the guy who duped her, or their failure to do so could provide the ammunition needed to protect other victims. She asked me to go with her to the police and file a report. I researched the statutes in New Jersey, put the information together in a file, and included two copies of my book. I drove the two hours from NYC to Florence NJ, where Donna Anderson, Mischele, and I paid a visit to the police.
Two days later, William Allen Jordan, who had posed as a completely different character than his actual identity, was arrested. The charges were 2nd degree sexual assault by coercion, third degree robbery by fraud, and impersonating an officer. It was my impression at the time that the coercion charge wouldn’t stick because Allen had not threatened Lewis. Quite the contrary. He had charmed her.
Mischele discovered Jordan’s true identity through a book and other efforts by Mary, one of his former wives. Mary truly deserves accolades for going public with Jordan’s story. Her ordeal made headlines in the UK and received additional media attention. Without her book, Mischele may never have known the truth. Mischele intends to write her story and has created a public journal.
Moving forward on 3 fronts…..
There are three major problems Mischele’s case could help resolve:
First- There is a cavernous hole in Meagan’s Law which requires the registration of convicted sexual molesters. Jordan had been convicted as a pedophile in the UK, but was deported to the US with no notice to NJ authorities.
Mischele was fortunate that the Assemblyman in her area, Troy Singleton, became aware of her case. He has agreed to introduce the Assembly version of legislation to close the international gap in Meagan’s Law, requiring the registration of international offenders who come to US shores.
Second- Michele Norberto, the mother of a sexual assault victim who had been instrumental in creating a New Jersey law called Nicole’s Law, contacted me. Nicole’s Law mandates that all sexual assault victims in New Jersey are to receive restraining orders against their offenders. She had noticed an online post I’d written, describing that Mischele Lewis had been denied a restraining order against Jordan.
The Judge, John Tomasello, had assailed Lewis for being “gullible”. And he likened her to a “gold digger” because she found him on the site, “Established Men.” He claimed that if he restrained Jordan he’d have to restrain all “college students”, as if lying to seduce someone was just kids’ play.
Nicole’s law was enacted to spare sexual assault victims from further, immediate harm. Although the record shows that Mischele had been issued a restraining order back when the arrest was made, she did not learn of it until after she suffered the wrath of Tomasello. She found out because Michele Norberto stepped up and contacted the authorities after reading my post.
Third- Sexual assault by fraud has other names such as rape by deception, impostor rape, and more. I have no preference as to what legislators call it, as long as the legislation is enacted in states that need it. The act could be considered as part of “date rape” in which the actor clouds self determination with drugs or alcohol. In fraud cases, the offender uses duplicity for the same purpose.
The realities of creating such a law
The problems of submitting language on this crime are many and great. People resist the concept because they believe the premise of “lies” as sexual assault may be offensive to victims of violent assault. By way of comparison, whether you’re defrauded of money or someone smashes you over the head with a two-by-four to grab your jewelry and your wallet, you’ve been robbed. Who can pass judgment on how violated a victim feels or should feel in either case? But Mischele, in pursuing a new law for NJ, should recognize that the law already exists, and for all deception, not just the one that happened to her.
When offenders lie about their marital status, a major deal breaker with most moral adults, they break their marriage vows, embroil the victim in adultery and fornication, and commit sexual assault by fraud. The victim has the right to self-determination over with whom they engage in sex, and should never be defrauded into a choice. A married man looking for hook-ups needs to find a “consenting” adult. Obviously it limits the field, which is exactly my point. Society needs to know.
Asm. Singleton also introduced a law on Sexual Assault by fraud. I attempted to ameliorate the problem of violent rape objectors and I received this message from one of his staffers as a cc:
“We have also requested OLS to draft legislation that would make sexual assault accomplished by fraud a crime, similar to Tennessee’s rape statute, including the language suggested by Joyce Short:
“The differentiation in the law should be one of “violent sexual assault” vs “non-violent sexual assault.” Violent sexual assault would apply when the person is physically overwhelmed by the offender. Non-violent sexual assault would be sexual assault committed by doping, intoxicating, DUPING, or coercing, and sexual penetration with someone unable to consent by virtue of age or mental capacity. “”
When Mischelle saw the note she called me screaming that I had interloped on “Her Law” and that I should go back to New York. She demanded that Asm. Singleton drop that language from the bill. Doing so caused huge negative repercussions in the press. And the bill failed to pass.
While Mischele was personally dealt a heinous crime of defilement, her post dismisses the crux of why it’s a crime. Lying to a victim to engage them in sex is, indeed, a sexual assault, period. The offender has sexually penetrated a person’s body by vitiating their knowing consent. In NJ, such consent is characterized as affirmative permission and the one change that would make NJ’s law more on-point is to simply change the words “affirmative permission” to “consent.”
I do not feel it is appropriate for Mischele to stand in judgement over how victimized others are when they are defrauded of sex. Whether the perpetrator uses the same duplicity that literally charmed the pants off of her, or any other ruse, all victims of sexual duplicity are violated.
Criminal code ascribes degrees of severity
Once a criminal act is identified, it is up to law makers to apply degrees to the crime. Those degrees convey the depth of seriousness of the crime. For instance, the crime of saying you’re single when you’re married to have sex with the victim once, could be sexual misconduct in the third degree, as opposed to a more severe charge against someone who continually assaults that victim by perpetuating the fraud over many years.
Mental health professionals have determined, and common sense dictates, that the damage to the victim increases with repetition. In other crimes, repetition of offenses is acknowledged by counts. Denying that a crime was committed when this behavior happens, even once, however, discounts the entire concept of “knowing consent” and discredits that the perpetrator’s willful and intentional invalidation of consent, by their duplicity, is criminal in any instance.
In cases where further crime takes place, the initial criminal behavior raises to the level of an “aggravated” act. In Mischele’s case, the offender was additionally charged with defrauding her of money. His conduct would warrant an arrest for “aggravated sexual assault by fraud,” a felony, as opposed to a one-time hookup which might warrant a misdemeanor charge. An Israeli case of a one-time offense resulted in an 18 month sentence for the perpetrator.
Varying types of deceit
When the tall tale that vitiates knowing consent is about the identity of the actor, the victim is penetrated by someone who is a stranger to them. Identity lies are irrefutable. They are not like a lie of intent in which the offender could rebut that they simply changed their mind.
Lies of intent are difficult to prove in any fraud, but should be dealt with in sexual assault in the same way that they’re dealt on all fraud charges. The difference in fraud that robs you of your assets vs fraud that robs you of your sexual sanctity, is simply the “booty” being sought. (Please pardon the pun, I just couldn’t resist!) Why should it be more burdensome for the court to determine whether a lie of intent existed in a sexual assault by fraud case than any other fraud case? That determination is their job.
In lies of identity, a person is either 28 or 48. They can’t have an MBA from a prestigious university and also be a high school dropout. The lie of identity is definitive and conclusive. It is specifically told to vitiate the knowing consent of the victim by masking the identity of the offender.
Validation at last……
I was delighted to have worked with Mischele to get Jodan arrested. and I was happy to discuss the law with Asm. Singleton in his efforts to make a difference. Hopefully, he will act on a law that requires Prosecutors to pay attention to the language that currently exists in their penal code to bring offenders to justice. But the nonsense that the only kind of fraud that harms them is the kind that happened to Mischele is simply self-serving nonsense.
Be aware. Sexual assault by fraud can happen to anyone! Here are some things YOU can do about it……
NJ residents- Call your legislators and tell them to vote to uphold the laws on sexual consent.
Residents in other states- Contact the legislators in your state to adopt language for a Sexual Assault by Fraud law, today!
Everyone- Please contact me today if you are a victim of Sexual Assault by Fraud in any state!
The frequency of sexual assaults on college campuses has become so epidemic, that preventing attacks inspired a nationwide campaign, winning the endorsement of President Barack Obama. This effort, entitled, It’sOnUs, calls attention to the many perilous ways students can be raped, but does not include rape by fraud, the crime of duplicitous sex that harms many unsuspecting victims.
In addition to the obvious benefits for college students, why is this effort so important for us to address?
First and foremost, it establishes that “Non-consensual sex is sexual assault,” dispelling the long held notion, by many states, that rape by extreme violence is the only sexual assault that rises to a criminal level.
There are several legal myths that must be dispelled in order to create legal sanctions against rape by fraud. The simple truth is that duplicity invalidates consent in all things. That’s why fraudsters, like Bernie Madoff, are punished when they make off with your money. Like Madoff, rapists who use fraud secure the consent of their victims. In Madoff’s case, his targets even ordered their brokers and bankers to transfer funds into his investment schemes. When viewed in light of recent California legislation on sexual assault, in which “yes” means “yes”, the actions of Madoff’s victims pretty clearly indicated that they had agreed.
But, here’s the catch…… when “consent” is achieved by duplicity, even “yes” means “no.” “Yes” requires legally valid, knowing consent. When consent is not freely and knowingly given, in other words, not coerced through duplicity, “yes”, indeed, means “no.” Even though the victim did not know that a crime was being committed against them at the time, the offender knew.
What we’re fighting against, in the effort to create sanctions against rape by fraud, is the ironic concept that “knowing consent” is important in every other human interaction, but when it sexually violates us, it’s okay. Could the fact that the overwhelming majority of our law makers are men, and that the vast majority of rape by fraud victims are women have something to do with it? And even though the protection would likely help far more women than men, the men who are targeted by female fraudsters deserve the same protections that women are being deprived of.
The concept “Non-consensual sex is sexual assault” is an important first step in ridding state laws of their onerous doctrines of “force.” Once achieved, the next hurdle is to establish that lies of identity engage you in having sex with a stranger. For instance, when someone removes their wedding band to sidle up to you, they are not only breaking their wedding vows, embroiling you in adultery and fornication, but they are also raping you through their use of fraud. Their knowing act of duplicity deprived you of your self-determination over your choice of a sexual partner, defiling you at your most intimate core.
Rape by violence undermines your knowing consent. If the attack did not penetrate you sexually, it would be “assault”, not “sexual assault” or “rape.”
Rape by doping you undermines your knowing consent.
Rape by intoxicating you undermines your knowing consent.
Rape by coercion, the threat of harm, undermines your knowing consent.
Statutory rape of an underage minor undermines their knowing consent because they have yet to attain the age of consent.
Sex with a mentally challenged person is rape when the victim is considered unable to provide “knowing consent.”
Why then is rape by fraud, the deliberate act of depriving someone of their “knowing consent” to penetrate them sexually, not punishable in the vast majority of states?
The state of Tennessee has the most appropriate language in the nation to penalize rape by fraud. Their statutes prohibit intercourse “induced by deception, accomplished by fraud and obtained by ruse.” I am currently seeking a rape by fraud victim in the state of Tennessee who is willing to come forward to seek justice through criminal prosecution of the offender. Doing so can raise awareness throughout the country and help knock down the barriers that prevent wider implementation of rape by fraud laws.
Mischele Lewis recently came forward to arrest William Allen Jordan for defrauding her of sex in New Jersey. I had helped her address the authorities in NJ to file her claim. Jordan was arrested for 2nd degree sexual assault. Although the Grand Jury failed to indict Jordan on the charge, her efforts brought about awareness by a state lawmaker who is considering language to submit in New Jersey to protect its residents from such a crime. And Jordan faces additional charges the Prosecutor filed against him for other damage to Mischele.
Could you be the next person who stands up to make a difference in your state? Write me. I’ll research the criminal statutes in your jurisdiction and let you know if you have a case.